Our skin’s appearance is considered one of the main factors that represent our overall wellbeing and concept of good health. The main goal for most of us is to achieve smooth, blemish-free, wrinkle-free, resilient skin, for as long as possible. This means we invest a great amount of time, effort, and money fighting the aging process to keep our skin youthful.
In order to slow down the skin aging process we must understand what happens when our skin ages, and what causes it to do so. Skin aging is a complex biologic process; three main changes happen to our skin as we age. First, the skin gradually loses its elasticity, which leads to sagging. Then, there is a reduction in collagen production, which results in the wrinkling of skin. With every year that passes, the overall amount of collagen declines by 1%. Finally, cells stop turning over and regenerating, which leads to sun spots, or hyperpigmentation.
Skin aging is influenced by both "intrinsic" and "extrinsic" factors. Intrinsic factors are the things we cannot change, such as genetics, hormones, and metabolism. Extrinsic factors are mostly environmental things we can influence. These include such as things as chronic light exposure, lifestyle choices, like smoking, and exposure to chemicals and toxins. That is why many strategies are used to slow the skin aging process as much as possible, including preventative measures as well as therapeutic measures.
Preventative measures mainly focus on protecting the skin from sunlight. Chronic exposure to sunlight, or UV radiation, causes premature aging, wrinkling, and pigment changes. Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher must be used daily, all year round. Another strategy is to use retinoids, which promotes collagen production and minimizes sun damage. Nutritional supplements, with their antioxidant effects, have also been proven to delay skin aging. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, carotenoids, and trace elements copper and selenium, all of which are found in our diet.
Therapeutic measures include antiaging creams, which focus on promoting collagen production and improving skin cell metabolism. The components of antiaging creams consist of two groups of products: antioxidants and cell regulating agents. Antioxidants include vitamins C, B3 and E, which are small enough to penetrate the skin, making them effective as creams. Combining vitamins C and E is better than using either alone. Cell regulators include retinols (Vitamin A), tretinoin, peptides and growth factors.
For additional information on this topic, see Dematoendocrinology, "Skin anti-aging strategies," by Ruta Ganceviciene, et al., 2012 (available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)